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Milan, Lake Como, La Garda and Verona – so much to see in this 8 day journey!
On this small group journey, we’ll:
Embark on some great walks and visit some of the area’s most splendid villas in the Lake Como region.
Cruise the waters of Lake Como and stop at picturesque lakeside villages.
Travel to Switzerland where we explore the area of St Moritz before taking one of the world’s most spectacular train rides back into Italy.
Explore Lake Garda, bordered by impressive rocky cliffs and soaring mountains in the north and vineyards and olive groves in the south.
This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.
Milan Central station (Milano Centrale) is also one of Italy and Europe’s main rail hubs for both domestic and international routes, so it’s easy to arrive by train from other Italian cities or European destinations. Milan’s Malpensa Airport (45kms from central Milan) is a major international air gateway with frequent and comfortable bus and rail connections to the downtown area.
Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving/ departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transports minimal carbon emissions. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents) that is centrally located and close to all the major sights.
In the evening you will meet your tour leader and your fellow travelling companions at a welcome meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place in a notice, located near the reception at our hotel), where your leader will give you a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour.
This evening is free, so why not enjoy dinner in one of the nearby traditional restaurants. Gran Duca Di York or similar
The Gothic Duomo is the city’s most famous building and walking in between the sculptures on its roof is an amazing experience. The views from up high are also very impressive. You will then walk through the beautiful Galleria, to the Teatro alla Scala, arguably Italy’s most famous opera house and a stage that has been graced by many great performers.
You will also explore some shops in the famous fashion district and visit the medieval castle and enjoy its beautiful park. Lunch is optional, you can either eat in a local restaurant or pick up a ‘panino’ if you prefer.
In the early afternoon you will drive north to Lake Como (Lago di Como) – an area of stunning beauty and full of unique and evocative landscapes. You will stop and enjoy a stroll in the beautiful medieval town centre of Como. Then there is time for a drink, either on Como’s amazing town square or along the lake shore, before driving around the western side of the lake to your next base.
Walking time – approximately 3 hours.
To recover from the hectic city life, you will stay for one night in the quaint mountain village of Breglia, high above Menaggio. In the evening you will get together and savour some fine local fare at the hotel. Hotel Bregalia or similar
The walk is challenging in sections but the visual rewards are spectacular with peerless views of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains.
The pace set by the leader will be achievable for the whole group. The first portion of your walk goes through forest and pastoral land, before you trek up to the ‘Rifugio’ itself. This is a great scenic setting to enjoy your picnic lunch.
A ten-minute walk from the ‘Rifugio’ takes you to a viewpoint called Pizzo Coppa, from where you will have a view not only of Lake Como, but also of the entire region with Lake Piano and Lake Lugano, between Italy and Switzerland. After lunch you will have time for a rest and then begin your descent down to the lake again.
Walking time: approximately 5-6 hours
According to your energy levels, there are a number of different return routes back down to Breglia and from there to Menaggio. There is also the possibility to catch a bus at various points. Those who wish to have a more relaxed day can opt to miss today’s more challenging walk and instead take a wonderfully panoramic, but easy circular route directly from the hotel.
Alternatively you can travel down to Menaggio and relax by the lake. In the late afternoon you will all head to Menaggio and take a local ferry to the romantic town of Varenna, on the east side of the lake. Strewn with elegant villas and crowned by an old castle, Varenna will be your base for the next two nights. Hotel Eremo Gaudio or similar
This grand white villa sits just back from the water and its surrounding estate is filled with a plethora of rare and exotic plant life.
Boarding another boat, you will then travel to the lakeside village of Tremezzo and explore the splendid Villa Carlotta, with its beautiful gardens overlooking the lake.
Another ferry ride takes you back to the charming village of Varenna, deemed by some as the most romantic town in all of Italy.
You will see the Fiumelatte, the curious ‘River of Milk’ and Italy’s shortest river (250m), which flows only six months a year.
Not even Leonardo da Vinci, who explored the cave from which the river emerges, could discover its source or the reason why it flows for only half the year.
Walking time: 3-4 hours. Hotel Eremo Gaudio or similar
Upon entering Switzerland, you will travel along a wonderful panoramic road and make a stop at Passo Maloja before arriving in the famous St. Moritz area, which is full of beautiful lakes. You will then take an easy, but spectacular excursion to the Morteratsch Glacier, where you can choose to enjoy a picnic lunch whilst taking in the incredible view.
Walking time: approximately 3 hours.
You will return to Italy on the Bernina Express, a small local train that operates directly from Morteratsch. This amazing rail trip takes you past mountain peaks and glacier lakes, before descending steeply towards the valley. This journey is one of the most spectacular in the world and definitely a highlight of the tour.
The train takes you back to Italy and the town of Tirano (Tiran), where you will spend the night. Hotel Bernina or similar
Your base is at the most northern point of the lake, in the charming small city of Riva del Garda. You will stay in the medieval town centre, with its colourful painted houses. You will take a boat tour across the northern side of Lake Garda to Limone, a village named after the many lemon groves that surround it.
From here you will walk up through the old cobbled streets to the edge of town, where the landscape changes from Mediterranean into alpine mountain scenery. After a coffee break, you will walk steeply uphill into the Singol Valley, along a comfortable path, alternating between woods and panoramic views of Lake Garda.
You will have a short rest at a mountain stream before descending back to Limone and walking amongst olive groves and citrus trees down to the lake shore. It is worth spending some time in the old centre of Limone, strolling along its steep and narrow lanes.
Walking time: approximately 3-4 hours
For those who wish, there is a direct bus back to Riva, but it is also possible to spend some more free time in Limone, and then jump on the boat, to travel back to Riva along the coast. Tonight you can choose to dine together under the medieval arches of Riva del Garda and raise your glasses in a toast to the infinite charms of the Italian Lakes region. Hotel Mirage/Hotel Astoria or similar
You will take a boat from the northern and more alpine side of the lake to the southern side, which has a more Mediterranean feel, passing many photogenic villages en route. You will go ashore in the town of Garda itself, nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Lake Garda’. It is dominated by its ‘rocca’ (rock), complete with an abbey and the remains of a medieval castle.
You will take a short and leisurely walking tour through the village and buy some picnic supplies before climbing up towards the abbey, where after a steep, but short and pleasant climb, you will be rewarded with beautiful views over the lake. Here you will have the chance to enjoy a picnic (optional) at an incredibly scenic place. Those wishing to opt out of this walk can wander around the medieval alleys in town, enjoy lunch in Garda or relax on the beautiful lakefront.
You will descend back to Garda again with some time for a coffee or gelato break and then embark on an easy afternoon walk which takes you to the peninsula of San Vigilio. There is a fairytale ambience in this small medieval hamlet. You may wish to spend some time here on the tranquil lake, have a drink or relax in the park.
Walking time: approximately 3-4 hours
In the late afternoon you will travel back by bus to Riva del Garda, a scenic ride along the eastern side of the lake. There is a wide choice of fine restaurants to choose from for dinner tonight. Hotel Mirage/Hotel Astoria or similar
Please do not book any onwards train or bus travel before midday. For train schedules please check the national rail site: www.trenitalia.com.
Of course you may opt to stay in beautiful Verona and spend time exploring this romantic city of Romeo and Juliet dominated by its Roman Amphitheatre. If you wish to return to the Italian Lakes Region, additional accommodation can also be booked in Riva del Garda or in the town of Sirmione. Please enquire when booking your tour.